10 Tips to Create a Social Media Platform That Promotes Your Business (Not Controls It)

10 Tips to Create a Social Media Platform That Promotes Your Business (Not Controls It)

By Rebecca J. Whitman

No matter how long you have been in business, you have most likely heard that you need to have some sort of presence online. Some advise having a page on Facebook. Others say that’s not enough; you need a website too. Still, others say you are going nowhere without a presence on major social media channels including Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. With so much busy work involved in promoting your business, where is the time left to work on your business? In this post, we will debunk the myths surrounding social media marketing and help you get started with creating an online presence that works for you and your business.

What is an online presence?

An online presence is when a business does not just exist in a physical location but is also represented online. In most cases, an online presence consists of a website or public page and social media accounts on at least two different platforms. 

Why is being online important for small businesses?

According to Forbes magazine, most potential customers check out an organization online before they ever consider supporting it in person. If you want to increase readership, bring in new clients, and increase customer conversions, you need a website and social media presence. 

Who manages an online presence for a small business? 

Social media marketing encompasses most of the busy work of having an online presence. Some businesses have employees hired exclusively to manage media and marketing. Others hire marketing firms to handle the work externally. For most of us, social media starts very do-it-yourself with what you can personally understand and maintain. 

Regardless of where you are in the scale of your social media marketing, the important thing is to have a plan, have fun, and be consistent. 

What are the different social media platforms good for? 

Social media platforms continue to grow, evolve, and change over time. What is important is not what seems popular to someone else but what you personally enjoy using and what you think is a platform your potential customers use. Social media marketing only really works when you are consistent, and you won’t be consistent if you can’t stand using the platform. 

When you think about your customers, look for a platform that also serves your ideal customer base and product line.

Currently, the top 4 social media platforms are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. This fluctuates over time, but Facebook and Instagram have stayed pretty consistent for many years. 

Facebook

Facebook is the oldest of the four and keeps the oldest demographic. Most Millennials consider it outdated, but older generations gravitate to it because they understand it. Social groups connect easily through Facebook Groups and Pages. Media can be scheduled to appear on Pages but not individual Profiles. Live video, stock video, still images, and text can be posted freely on Facebook, but they will be monitored. If anything is deemed a copyright infringement (like singing the cover of someone else’s song) or is even remotely offensive (like an anti-vaccination post), it will be pulled from the internet. Facebook is highly censored.    

Instagram

Instagram is actually owned and operated by Facebook, but it is a completely different platform. Instagram is image-driven material; no text can post without a still image or video reel. It makes Instagram appeal to visually motivated crowds including travelers and artists. Mini reels of vacation getaways, art tutorials, performances, and more are shared on Instagram. Some Millennials have Instagram accounts, but it is primarily used by GenX, Celebrities, and Influencers. Instagram does stick to a distinctive square shape, so images shared from other platforms can often get the edges of their graphics cut off. Instagram is also not friendly with hyperlinks to external sources, so it is hard to use it to link to a personal website or resource. 

Twitter

Twitter has faced some controversy recently concerning fake accounts and buyouts, but it is still  an account used by many real people too. Twitter focuses on very short phrases and links to external sources. It is news-driven and appeals to a politically charged audience. It is not a good place for a rant because the character lengths are limited, but it can be a great place to share business-minded posts.

TikTok

TikTok is a relatively new platform that focuses on a constant stream of short videos. There is very little room to add text or link to external sources on TikTok. It appeals to those who love to consume massive amounts of content with little to no filters. Imagine a social media version of YouTube, and you have a close idea of how it works. TikTok is primarily popular with Millennials.

How do you create an online platform that is not overwhelming? 

Managing social media for your business can be overwhelming, but you have to keep it in its place. Remember that it is a necessary part of marketing yourself, but it is not the business, it is not you, and it can’t run you. The key to not being overwhelmed by social media presence is to 1) Focus on one or two platforms that you enjoy using NOT all of them, 2) Create a plan for what and how often you want to post, 3) Have fun with it, and 4) Stay consistent.

Social media is a great place to try out new ideas and poll your audience for their likes and dislikes. With active followers, you can often learn as much from their engagement as you can from anything else you do for your business. Learning how to be more effective makes it fun.

I also find it really helpful to chunk as much work together as possible to save time and avoid scrambling the day a post is due. Remember: you set your own schedule, so make it something you can reasonably maintain. With the exception of influencers, most people post new content once a week. 

What is a social media calendar?

A social media calendar is a schedule showing what you are going to post, when you will post it, and where you will post it. Calendars are extremely helpful for pre-planning media and structuring campaigns. This is how a post can build on a prior post and point readers to specific actions. Planning creates positive outcomes. 

Planning also makes it clear where you need to put in extra work and where you can chunk work and save time. When it comes to technology, always allow more time than you thought it would take to get the job done. The power goes out, and the internet dog eats your homework in social media marketing too. 😉 

How and why should you schedule posts?

Scheduling posts takes the stress out of social media posting and blogging. As much as possible, you should use these tools to be proactive in your business and work ahead of your deadlines. Working ahead gives you the freedom to do other things–especially create more content and work on the projects that you love.

Depending on the platform, there is usually a way to schedule a post to appear at a later date. This feature is often only available on the desktop version of the platform. With Facebook and Instagram, there is a wonderful free tool called Meta Business Suite that lets you schedule posts across both platforms, individualize them, and work months in advance. The Meta Business Suite also gives audience insights including what days and times are best for you to post to reach your followers. (All that creepy “they are watching you” info is finally put to good for your business.) 

What are some tools you can use to create graphics?

Some graphics tools are built into the sites for you. TikTok has its own audio clips and filters. Instagram has formats and filters for reels and photos. What I like best is creating graphics using Canva. Canva is a mostly free app that can be used on your mobile device or desktop. It cloud stores all your work, so you can access it across multiple devices easily. It keeps on top of the trends for good-looking graphics, and it auto-formats them to fit the space you are putting them in. If you are like me, you can make one graphic to share across all platforms by using a standard Instagram size or leaving a ¼-inch bleed around the edges of your image.  

How do you learn new trends and techniques for social media marketing?

There is always something to learn for social media and marketing. Challenge yourself to learn something new about your technology as well as what the market trends are currently. HubSpot is a marketing firm that knows a lot about its business. You can research topics in their blog or sign up for free newsletters to learn something new throughout the week. 

If you are a visual learner, you have a wealth of tutorials on YouTube. Curious how to create a reel on Instagram? Google it, and you will find a list of tutorials available on YouTube. This one with Stephanie Kase was very helpful, and it led to a whole channel of other helpful videos. 

When do you know it is time to change your online presence? 

Changing your online presence and marketing plan is usually necessary if you have been doing the same thing for a considerable amount of time but not creating new traffic to your business. You may need to do more research or switch to another time and day for posting. You may also need to consider moving to a different platform. For consultations about your existing media and personalized help to make it better, feel free to reach out to me. 

Leave a comment below if you found this post to be helpful.

Thanks for reading!

The Dangerous Place of Loneliness

Wise thinking leads to right living; Stupid thinking leads to wrong living. Fools on the road have no sense of direction. The way they walk tells the story: “There goes the fool again!”

Ecclesiastes 10:2-3 MSG

Whether you are alone in a crowded room or struggling in isolation trying to connect with real people, loneliness is something we all face at different times in our lives. How you choose to handle it can change the course of your entire future. There are predators right now banking on you getting it wrong.

Loneliness is a dangerous place because we want connection so desperately that we often bend our rules to get it. In today’s post, we will talk about the dangers to avoid and some positive ways to tackle loneliness when it comes.

If it is a normal part of life, how is loneliness dangerous?

Loneliness becomes dangerous when it is coupled with isolation, bad thoughts, and negative influences.

In isolation, we tell ourselves we are ugly and unlovable. We build up others to be our arch nemesis, and we seek retribution. In extremes, this plays out as gun violence, suicide, online scams, and so much more.

Is it really extreme to connect loneliness to violent, tragic behavior? I think not.

A recent study found that loneliness brought on by social isolation can profoundly alter one’s brain chemistry, shorten longevity, and even bring the onset of serious illnesses. Another study argues that suicide rates are increasing since all the social isolation of the Covid-19 pandemic. Suicide and social isolation are now considered public health crises.

4 Ways to Counteract Loneliness

Read The Bible

When your heart is discouraged and your mind fills with negative thoughts, the Word of God is living and active to cut through the noise.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Reading Scriptures that encourage you to take control of your thoughts and think positively will help you keep perspective in the hard times of life.

Meet People In Real Life

As long as you are being careful, there is nothing wrong with having friends online. Several friends I dearly care for are online, overseas, and in places where I may never see them in person. With that being said, I reserve my deepest friendships for those whom I can see in person.

I think it is important to be able to trust others in person. I don’t tell my personal business to the entire world—even if I do get quite transparent here to all of you. The truths I struggle with on a daily basis, I talk to a few close friends about.

Some people have social anxiety. Some are afraid of meeting others because of Covid-19 and all its variants. Bottom line: you can’t let fear control you. Challenge yourself to do something different that makes you meet others.

Get A Hobby

If you struggle to meet others, the easiest way to do so is through your hobbies. Find something to do that is not isolating you or keeping you online.

If your hobby is gaming, look at what you like about that game and how you could do something positive in real life with it. If you are an active shooter gamer, maybe there is a gun range you can practice shooting at or some hunters you can connect with and go hunting. If you are a VR and lifestyle gamer, maybe there is an animal shelter you can volunteer at and meet people there or a short course at the local community college that speaks to your enterprising, creative, and entrepreneurial spirit.

If you are really good at handmade crafts, find a group that likes to craft together and donate to charity. Consider making stuff to sell and setting up at a craft fair. You can make more than money from that hobby; you make friendships with other crafters.

Get Outside

Exposure to sunlight is said to increase the brain’s release of the hormone, serotonin, that makes you feel happier, calmer, and more focused.

Think about that! Your body’s basic chemistry is telling you that it is not good to be inside all the time.

Go for a walk around the block. Go to a park or nature reserve, take a picnic, and spend some time there. Jump in a kayak and explore the river. Put on a harness and scale a rock wall. The world is your oyster.

Final Thoughts

When you challenge yourself to do something positive and different, you change the norms that you have been living in. When you change your norms, your life becomes better almost overnight. When your life becomes better, you attract people you want to be like and be around. When you start spending time together, your loneliness loses its voice.

Being busy doesn’t end loneliness. Being vulnerable with people you can trust does.

Mankind was not built to live life alone. Find people you are interested in that can uplift you, and invest the time it takes to earn their trust. Use your words to communicate clearly, and be patient with the time it takes to develop that connection into a deep relationship.

Fake Social Media: The Dangers, Cons, and Corruption and Top 5 Recommendations to Protect Yourself on Social Media Platforms

Early this month, Elon Musk backed out of a 44 Billion dollar deal to buy Twitter because of “a continual disagreement over the number of spam accounts on the platform”. According to this article in the NY Times, the deal was made on a whim in the first place and Twitter will most likely fight him in court to keep it. Twitter claimed to have 217 million active users by the end of 2021, and Musk was supposed to pay $54.20 per share to own it. Even if his personal love of using the platform got him into the talk, it only makes sense for Musk to look into it more before seriously spending that much on it.

I think this hesitation is an opportunity to expose a much bigger issue at play on all social media platforms.

Con Artists and Human Traffickers on Social Media

I’ve written about this before with some of my own experiences with romance scams, but the biggest problem with social media now is the unknown percentage of it that is either a bot or a physical person lying about who they are. When someone lies for financial gain, they can say beautiful heartfelt things but the truth is that they became heartless long before they met you.

My experience was with a lot of stolen valor and romance scams. First, there was the Army Ranger who really stole my heart with his incredible honor, respectful words, and military service. Then it was dozens of fake accounts on dating websites like POF. I thought it would be better on Christian dating sites, but it wasn’t; even the sites themselves were corrupt. So I gave up on online dating and tried to make meaningful relationships in person. That is hard to do when everyone you meet just wants to keep you in the friend zone. Then, as my business grew, so did the number of strangers reaching out to me online for business. LinkedIn and Instagram accounts propositioned me for business investments and partnerships. If it wasn’t a multi-level marketing deal with a 4-digit buy-in, it was something similar investing in Crypto-currency.

Beverly Weeks of Cry Freedom Ministries says that human trafficking starts with stalking prey online as friends. Whole relationships are formed over a cyber connection before they ever meet in person and, when they do, sexual favors become a requirement of the interaction. Today, people I don’t know like my posts online and follow me on social media. Many of them go forward and message me compliments about how I look. Many people now don’t feel safe to even entertain comments on social media from strangers. I didn’t want to close that door myself, so I let myself say hello back. What ensued was probably the most hurtful experience of my dating past online.

An Example of Social Media Manipulation

John Fedrick Williams was a single father–an E7 Gunnery Sargeant in the Marines deployed to Yemen. He messaged me through Instagram then Google Hangouts/Google Chat.

We talked about everything. We talked about “our daughter” and made plans that moved very quickly. He sent me pictures and videos; I made him special graphics. He proposed to me; I tried on and bought a wedding dress!

When I received a large sum of money, it seemed only natural to tell him about it.

One day when John was talking to me, enemy gunfire rained in on him. He survived, but it scared him so badly that he became convinced that he would die if he went on the next mission–to pursue the invaders. I tried to talk and pray him away from his fears, but he became obsessed with applying for leave. He had his daughter’s babysitter reach out to me via email and vouch for his character, and he sent me bank information to pay for his leave. The account showed that he had over a million dollars in the bank but no access to it. When that bank payment fell through, he asked me to pay. When I refused, I was told I was “leaving him to die” and how could I do that to “our family”. When I still didn’t budge, he called me (on my VOIP number). I heard his voice and knew it wasn’t the same person I had fallen for in all the pictures and videos. I ended it cold right then, but I still missed him. Even knowing he was a lie, I wanted to have him in my life.

Why People Lie Online

Unfortunately, a lot of people get stuck in that spiral. They feel ignored, and they long to be loved, so they accept attention wherever they can get it. Social media fills that void.

You can be whoever you want to be online!

Life is glamourous and rich there. You can follow your favorite celebrities and be a part of their lives as they share on social media. You can dream about vacations and nice things. You can post your best moments, your best angles, and always look put together and your best online.

No one talks about the times they ugly cry to songs on their Spotify or grunge all day in pajamas and junk food with last night’s makeup on and their hair in a bun.

Even with no bad intentions for the world around us, we all lie a little on social media because of the way we want to be perceived in the world. The difference is that some people make a living out of telling lies and using others.

Legitimate money can be made online through advertisement and marketing, but that all depends on having a product to sell that is worth buying. What happens when the product is an emotional connection? That’s when certain people steal identities, pretend to be someone else, and get others to send them money and/or pay for stuff for them.

The High-Value Haves

A high-value have, in my definition, is someone that generates a lot of attention and potential revenue through their online presence. According to a recent statistic, over 50% of celebrities are active online, and that data is strategic for fan engagement. Social media helps celebrities continue to have the support they need to do what they do–but it also makes them targets for people wanting to catch some portion of their success. Entrepreneur Magazine did an article that suggested 1-in-4 people create fake accounts online. Some of that was for reasons not connected at all to identity theft, but still sad nonetheless.

I followed a page for one of my favorite recording artists, Brandon Lake. I was surprised when he messaged me back personally! The awe and excitement of talking with him wore off, however, when he asked me where North Carolina is. The real Brandon Lake is a worship pastor in Charleston, South Carolina–directly south of North Carolina.

Another group of high-value haves on social media is public service workers and military service members. There is just something attractive–even trustworthy–about a person in a uniform. Real public service workers work as volunteers or low-paid civil servants. Real service members don’t make a lot of money until they move up in rank–and that takes years of service. In both cases, these people serve faithfully for wages that make some of them still qualify for food stamps. Scammers take images of service members and public workers and create accounts claiming to be them. They bank on the patriotic heart of an American to support them in dollars when they ask for it.

One person I met had all his images taken from Instagram and used to create over six different accounts in his name across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. He kept reporting them, but they kept showing up.

For more about how to love and protect yourself online in the military, read this article.

Final Thoughts and My Top 5 Recommendations

If you are a high-value have, your best bet is to avoid social media platforms altogether.

Social media is useful for inspiring ideas and staying connected with loved ones, but it is constantly putting your identity at risk because it is not carefully monitored.

Between April and June of last year, Facebook reported removing 1.7 billion fake accounts–and that was just one site and not even half a year! Scam accounts are out of hand and, many times, they are barely acknowledged when they are reported by the victims directly.

I recommend the following if you choose to stay on social media:

  1. Limit what you share to only be the stuff you wouldn’t mind even your enemies knowing about you
  2. Set your shares to private
  3. Reduce or cut off completely the number of stranger messages you respond to
  4. Search your own name periodically to identify and report fake versions of you
  5. Migrate to Daily Testify if you are Christian and want a safer place to socialize online

I hope this helps you all stay safer out there.

Thanks for reading! Please share this post with all your friends on social media.

Mindset Medicine: Overcoming Obstacles Through Journaling

Recently internationally best-selling author, Mari L. McCarthy, sent me a copy of her new book, Mindset Medicine: A Journaling Power Self-Love Book. In the book, the author shares 14 writing prompts and ways to heal from mental, emotional, and physical trauma through journaling. I accepted the book to write a book review, but I picked it up to read it at a time when I desperately needed it.

Mari’s book came to me at a time when the absolute last thing I thought I needed to learn about was disciplined writing. When I opened it to the introduction, it read like Mari was talking directly to me.

If you’ve slowly developed a feeling that big tech, mass media, and our cultural and government institutions are doing everything they can to brainwash you, you should pay attention to this feeling. You should pay attention to it and trust it, because it’s your intuition feeding you the truth. Make no doubt about it, your heart and soul are under siege by societal forces that don’t have your best interests in mind….These forces want to separate you from YOU….view this book as an invitation to journey inward and deprogram what you’ve been conditioned to believe you should be.

Mari L. McCarthy

The Mission

The book is about helping you reclaim your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Pulling from her personal experience overcoming Multiple Sclerosis (MS) through journaling, Mari leads readers to overcome their own greatest challenges through focused introspection. She doesn’t just lean on her own experiences either. Ms. McCarthy cites examples of other published medical studies that saw real change as a result of writing. Fourteen short chapters teach readers to apply the technique of writing to self-heal.

The Challenge

The first chapter really got me thinking about something. In my circles, I have seen a lot of harm come from social media. Friends pose pictures of themselves in their best lives, outfits, and moments. All the perfection makes you feel like you are missing out on the way life is supposed to be.

Then random strangers message you “hey beautiful” trying to get at your heart. If you are curious and lonely, you say “hi” back and open a door. If you are smart, you ignore them.

The question I find myself asking is why social media even wastes our time if it hurts our hearts so much. This idea is part of what I wrote about in response to the first prompt from the book below:

If you could really change the world, what would you want to change about it? Consider getting your own copy of Mari L. McCarthy’s Mindset Medicine and join the revolution of changing the world through writing.

Mindset Medicine book cover

About the Author

Author holding some of her books

Mari L. McCarthy, Founder and CEO – Chief Empowerment Officer  of CreateWriteNow.com, teaches curious health-conscious action-takers how to use Journaling For The Health Of It®️ to heal the emotional, creative, physical, and spiritual issues in their tissues. She also shows them how to use this powerful personal transformation tool to know, grow and share their True Self. Mari is the multi award-winning author of Journaling Power: How To Create The Happy, Healthy Life You Want To Live, Heal Your Self With Journaling Power and Mindset Medicine: A Journaling Power Self-Love Book. She’s also created 20+ Journaling For The Health Of It® Self-Management 101 Workbooks including Who Am I?, Take Control Of Your Health! and Start Journaling For The Health Of It® Write Now.

Find out more about Mari by visiting her website CreateWriteNow.com, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube.

Something Extra

For more from Mari including a look at her venture into music, join us Monday for a visit to the Bohemian Princess Podcast.

How To Protect Yourself Online: A Catfisher On Social Media and What Finding Him Can Teach You

Listen to this post on our podcast on Spotify

Identity Theft…Fake IDs…Cyber Bullying…Catfishing…Cyber Terrorism…these are all ugly things to talk about and definitely not what you want to start a year on, but if you have ever been a victim of it, you know the truth: it can stop life as you know it from then forward. Some victims are so embarrassed by what they let themselves believe that they never get past that dark moment. Unfortunately, I know at least one reader who killed herself after what happened to her. That is why I hope you take very seriously what I am about to tell you and alter your life online going forward.

Cyberbullying and catfishing are a very real and rising crime. In 2019, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimated that nearly 20,000 people were victims of some form of online romance or confidence scam. In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported $304 million in losses to such scams. Statistics on such crimes are astounding and confirm victims and criminals are not who you think they are; this is a problem effecting all age and genders especially men.

Catfishing is deliberately creating a fake character and story to interact with others online, and cyberbullying is abusive behavior done online with or without a fake character to protect the abuser. Cyber terrorism is using the internet to perform acts of terror on others. In my experience, being the victim of catfishing feels like experiencing all three of those things.

How To Protect Yourself Online

  1. Protect Your Images Online
  2. Insist on Video Chatting with Strangers Before You Trust Them
  3. Create Alternate Phone/Email Information To Use Online
  4. Never Send Money or Gift Cards to a Person or Organization You Haven’t Met in Person
  5. Report and Block Abusers When They Are Discovered

Protect Your Images Online

When I was catfished by a man claiming to be in the military, I was really angry at the real man in the photos for not protecting himself more. The truth is that I can just as easily take a screenshot of my friends’ social media accounts today and recreate a persona of them online that isn’t them in five minutes. If you choose to be online, you need to understand that EVERYTHING you put online is there forever no matter if you delete it, so choose wisely what you share–and don’t overshare. The whole world is not your friend, nor is it the place to share every detail of your life. Share the important stuff privately in protected groups or emails not on your newsfeed. Change the status to “friend” or “friend of friend” on most of your posts. If your social media platform offers it, remove the ability for your images to be downloaded. You can’t stop someone screenshotting what you share, but you can stop them from downloading the pictures of your kids and using them as their own.

Insist on Video Chatting with Strangers Before You Trust Them

This is a real big one and it stops the fakers EVERY time–so do this early in your conversations and before you invest your heart or time more than a few days. You can’t make a static image talk, walk, and breathe; video will force the real person to be revealed. Either they shuffle and come up with excuses for why they can’t connect, or they give you a hard time for making rules for them to jump through, or they show up but the person you see doesn’t match the person you have been talking to in text and still images. One catfisher went so far as to string a series of still images together and talk to me like a voice over on a “bad connection”. The most recent attempt asked to call me on WhatsApp. When he did, his voice was clearly not who he claimed to be. He turned out to be “a black boy” most likely from Nigeria instead of the German/Scottish white man in my pictures.

Side Note: It pays to be a student of language, accents, and cultures. Don’t be naïve and take people at their word; know what their claimed culture should look and sound like. If you can’t get them to video chat but you can get them to call, knowing the difference in sounds is enough to often confirm or deny their identity.

Create Alternate Phone/Email Information To Use Online

You live with real people and places you love and protect, so don’t give away your real personal information online. I have a separate Gmail account just for social media and interacting with strangers. On that account, I also have a Google Voice phone number and attached it to WhatsApp and Signal. If someone needs to call, text, or video chat, they have to go through those channels first if I don’t know them AND I am honest about it. I tell people up front that I have to be guarded and don’t share personal information until I know you better. That should be a deterrent, but it is a worm on a hook to predators. They don’t mind the chase if they think their is a prize at the end of it.

Never Send Money or Gift Cards to a Person or Organization You Haven’t Met in Person

Not everyone is going to ask you for money, but a lot of them are in it for the long haul to get you to offer it. There are a lot of different reasons why people catfish, and it isn’t all just money either. Some do it for emotional reasons. Others do it just to mess with you. The last guy that did it to me said he “wanted to try it” and “needed help” with financial costs. Unfortunately, some parts of the world treat catfishing like a job and operate in teams to get as many people on the hook at the same time as possible.

Report and Block Abusers When They Are Discovered

Don’t feel sorry for them when you catch them in their lies; they are counting on that! A novice liar is easy to spot. They are over anxious, have broken English, and there are all sorts of holes in their stories. An experienced catfisher is well polished and in it for the long haul. He/she creates a believable lie with enough images and encouraging words in proper English to make you think they are legit. They even get the time zone differences right! They are perpetual students of you. They watch your social media, know what makes you tick, and see your bleeding heart to rescue people from the error of their ways. They are counting on you caring enough to give them what they want even after they are discovered–enough people have done it already to make them think you will too.

DON’T CONTINUE TALKING! Screenshot your conversation and images for proof. Then block and archive them. Report them to your social media or whatever platform they met you on. I had so many catfishers to report to one dating website that they ended up telling me I was “too picky” and needed to “lower my standards”. Most social media platforms take your reports into consideration and act on it following an investigation. At Daily Testify, reports are taken seriously and abusers are shut down quickly with less hesitation than every other site on the market.

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

How To Heal From An Attack

  1. Allow Yourself Time to Cry
  2. Educate Yourself to be Better Prepared Next Time
  3. Let Trusted Friends Know and Reach Out For Their Support
  4. Seek Professional Counseling for any Deeper Issues
  5. Get Back on the Proverbial Horse

Allow Yourself Time to Cry

It is not easy being human. Sometimes the cost is so high we just want to ball up and choose to hate the world or leave it. Neither option is a good one. No matter how many times I have been through it, it still hurts to be catfished. Though I didn’t let myself trust or give anything really personal away to the last two scammers, I did have the hope they were real and that hope deferred made my heart sick. It’s okay to cry. Let yourself express those emotions. I’ve gone on walks through the rain-soaked countryside talking to God and crying till I found peace again. He met me there, and he can meet you too. Allow yourself the room to feel, but don’t let the bad experiences close the gift of your loving heart.

Educate Yourself to be Better Prepared Next Time

We don’t live in a sinless world where you can take strangers at their word and trust them. The people you trust and invest in should be people who earned your trust over time. Learn more about the ways of the world and online community through organizations like The CyberSmile Foundation that help teach you safe ways to interact online. Read reputable articles like the ones linked in this story and on our blog. Begin to see yourself as less of a victim and more of a warrior loading up for battle. Knowledge is an arsenal that never fades or requires a concealed carry permit.

Let Trusted Friends Know and Reach Out For Their Support

Most victims have people in their lives that love them, yet they feel isolated. Whether they physically live alone or they are in a house with other people, some need in their heart was being missed and that need was the hope the abuser claimed to fill. As public as I am online, none of my abusers read my blog or claimed to know anything from it. Unless they are stalkers, abusers don’t put much effort into chasing you past your social media, yet–in that moment–you think they are the only person in the world that really cared about you. That is the opposite of the truth. You don’t need to tell the whole world like I am literally doing here, but you need to tell someone what happened to you. You can’t navigate the dark thoughts alone. Share your experience with someone you trust and lean on them for emotional support.

Seek Professional Counseling for any Deeper Issues

Depending on how deeply connected you were to your abuser, you may need to talk to a professional. This may also apply if you knew the abuser a few days but have deeper baggage to work through. Sometimes being vulnerable emotionally reveals places in our hearts and experiences that we haven’t dealt with and didn’t know how to. There is no shame in seeking help to work through it. In fact, that is the brave thing to do. It is the ones who needed it but didn’t pursue it that end up caving to the dark thoughts and ending their life.

Get Back on the Proverbial Horse

No matter how many times you have been the target victim, it is not an excuse to hide forever from social media. Maybe you need to learn better practices and change what you do online, but you don’t have to leave it completely to be safe.

I don’t look to social media for my real world connections. The people I trust the most are not people I met online, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have meaningful relationships with people online. I met a couple online last year that are sitting in a country on the other side of the world right now reading this. We haven’t met in person, yet I consider them friends.

I get messages almost daily from strangers on my social media platforms, and almost all of them are men. Instead of feeling flattered by the attention and remaining vulnerable to every possible risk, I have to be wise enough to realize they could be scammers. I treat social media as a marketing space and share what I do there, so I will friend strangers on social media, but I follow my own advice to stay safe. If someone turns out to be a predator, I report them.

Maybe someday the bad ones will hurt less. What I share next is to show you just how real this can be. The screenshots below were captured over roughly three days of communication with a catfisher that contacted me through Daily Testify. Read on to see how I caught him in his lies and ended it.


Following this conversation on a private email channel, I screenshot everything, archived the message, and blocked the person. I then went to Daily Testify and reported him, stored the images elsewhere, and deleted them from my phone. Seeing the images later can cause setbacks in healing.

If you have been a victim of a scam, waste no time in reporting it and moving on. Don’t let them steal your joy or make you think you are the problem. Seek God! Let Him fill the places that you lack, and give Him the responsibility to play matchmaker with your heart.

Do We Love To Hate Or Hate To Love?

“I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart.”–Nelson Mandela

I have always played my political cards close to my vest. I don’t advertise my party affiliations not because I am embarrassed of the person I voted for in our last Presidential election but because I have learned that doing so brews hatred. For similar reasons, I avoid watching the news. Nevertheless, I don’t have to monitor my Twitter feed to catch the pulse of our nation; I read it every time I enter my classroom.

My students are over saturated in news media. They are constantly watching and reading about people on social media and streaming channels. This does not mean, however, that their education is a quality one. They know more about George Michaels than they do about George Washington.

What are they really learning?

What are they really watching?

My nieces–who are still between the ages of 7 and 13–recently showed me some shows they were watching on YouTube. In the show, blocky Minecraft-like characters wobble around hitting each other while screaming and laughing and singing silly songs. The show is supposedly made by video gamers sharing their “craft”, but it has no substantial value. It does not encourage craft in gaming. It does not encourage healthy social behavior. It does not help my nieces become better human beings. I have seen some adults watch the same types of shows and games and call it “informative”. At the risk of sounding like an old-fashioned, out-of-touch person on a rant, let me just tell you that it is mind-numbing crap.

There are voices out there on the internet to fit any slant you want to hook into and believe–in any language you want to hear it in. If you think the government is corrupt and out to hurt you, there are websites and shows you can watch to support that point of view. If you think one racial group is always the enemy of another group, there are plenty of channels to support your view. Several guest speakers are lining up to help you rally a protest on that idea too. If you think the media is biased and corrupt, go underground and find an unfiltered channel sneaking out the “real truth” to you. If you care little about the rest of the world, that’s okay too; Hallmark has some nice, happy endings for you.

No matter where you sit in the spectrum of perspectives I just mentioned, you have a place in the United States of America, and that place is protected by the first amendment of the Constitution. If you have never heard about the Constitution of the United States, if you have never read it, Google it; it’s online too. Before you burn that flag or bend a knee during the National Anthem or spit on all things American again, realize men and women have a long history of fighting and dying for your freedom to do just that in this country. If you protest a country that gives you the freedom to protest, what exactly is your point? And if you hate this country so much, why are you in it?

So much of what I see today is angry people with no sense of their human history. History should be our friend and allie, not the thing we avoid like the Black Plague. Instead of blindly believing the many filtered voices offering “truth”, we should all pursue truth from the source. Watch the speech and read the document; don’t just accept what others tell you about it. Don’t just spout racist ideals like bullies in a school yard when you don’t even understand half the words you are using.

What started all this anger, and what fed it into a raging wildfire? I believe it started in childhood with the way we chose to raise our children.

Right now, generations are closer in age then they have ever been before. Children are raising children who are raising children. Clueless, overwhelmed adolescents leave babies to parent themselves through devices and social media. Those babies grow up without social skills or the confidence that the world is their oyster. For them, the world is against them and every person in it is set out to hurt them. They stumble into adolescence and adulthood, get pregnant, and repeat the cycle of what happened to them. They seek to redeem their world through the spoilage of their child and end up acting more like a friend to them then a parent. If I were raised like this, I’d be angry too.

How can we stop the cycle?

How can we show each other more love than hate?